Hong Kong is well known for its shopping and its amazing skyline; however, the number of people coming to the city for a culinary experience is remarkable! To show you why you should not be surprised at this, let’s discover the most famous types of restaurant that can be found on every corner of the city.
Dim Sum Restaurant
Starting in the mornings, Hong Kong people love to gather with friends and family, especially during the weekend, and the best place to do this is a dim sum restaurant. In Cantonese, eating at these dim sum restaurants is called yum cha, which means drinking tea – because the whole meal is accompanied by plentiful supplies of tea. In a very noisy, big and lively room, groups of people sit at round tables and eat an endless variety of small dishes arriving in bamboo containers. Dim sum is a mixture of appetisers, usually with three or four pieces on a plate that can be shared among the diners; these dishes range from chicken feet and organs to dumplings and glutinous rice, via spongy cakes and buns.
The history of dim sum goes back to Silk Road commerce: it originated as a place for merchants to stop and rest. Later on, it became common for tired farmers to have a sip of tea after a hard day at work. The introduction of snack food occurred later still, but now this is one of the most popular categories of restaurant in the whole of southern China and especially in Hong Kong.
Another fundamental Hong Kong dining experience is going to a hot-pot restaurant. As you might expect, the meal is a big hot-pot with different choices of flavourful boiling soup to which diners add vegetables, meat, fish balls, organs, dumplings and other delicacies to cook. Loud but spacious restaurants offer the dish at night, and friends and families meet to have dinner together; in fact, the atmosphere is very home-like. This dish seems to have come from Mongolia and then spread to all over Asia, with different foods and styles in every country. Hong Kong restaurants usually offer a buffet with lots of vegetables and seafood, together with a great variety of sauces to dip the meats in.
Dai Pai Dong
A particular type of food stall that can be found in Hong Kong especially is the dai pai dong: a “restaurant with a big license plate”, which distinguishes it from a normal food stall. Different dishes are served in these restaurants, from congee at breakfast to rice and noodles for the rest of the day. These food stalls developed after the Second World War, when licenses were given to the families of the deceased to provide them with a living. After 1956, due to hygiene problems and black-market sales, the government stopped issuing the licenses and only permitted spouses to inherit the stalls. Nowadays, the actual number of dai pai dong in Hong Kong is only around 20, which have predominantly moved to cleaner, air-conditioned premises instead of the traditional messy, open-air arrangement.
Cha Chaan Teng
Finally, Hong Kong offers a special category of local fast-food: cha chaan teng. This type of restaurant can be found on every corner of the city, offering rice, fried noodles, porridge, vegetables, meats, fish, and set lunch and dinner meals. Their most notable characteristic is Hong Kong-style milk tea, where the tea is soaked in an iron pot for hours to give it a strong taste. Introduced particularly under the influence of Britain, cha chaan teng initially offered Western food at affordable prices; nowadays, the list of food is endless and also includes sandwiches and toast.
Finding all these restaurants is easy, as they are spread all over the city. Start your culinary exploration immediately, as they have a lot to offer!Tweet